A behind-the-scenes look at the surgical environment

Published in For the Health of It Author: CentraCare

Editor's Note: On Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m., St. Cloud Hospital is hosting a Surgery & Simulation Center Open House. It’s an opportunity to view the operating rooms and advanced technology used in this department.

Visitors also can walk through the CentraCare Health Simulation Center, which mimics the hospital setting and utilizes high-tech life-like mannequins used to train department staff.

This year is the 20th year of the open house. The event is free and visitors do not need to register in advance.

To help get an idea of how this event has changed over time and what visitors can expect, we talked Denise Getting, a nurse on the surgery team and one of the event’s organizers.

Q: What is your goal for this year’s event?

Denise: My goal is to get people excited and educated about the technology that we have here in St. Cloud. We provide fantastic surgical care and there is no need to go anywhere else — we have the resources right here at home! We have multiple specialties, hundreds of surgeons that come here, and highly-trained staff. I, personally, love my job. I am proud to work here. I trust the care that my colleagues provide. My family comes to St. Cloud Hospital for our care. Not because it's in my hometown. Because I trust in the care we provide here. I see it every day!

Q: What sorts of visitors do you have at the event? 

Denise: I think initially, we started the open house for our own families to see where we work. Surgery is typically a locked department, and unless you work here — or are having a surgery — you will not get access. High school students are not allowed to job shadow in operating rooms. The open house allows anyone who is interested, special access for just one night! We have lots of eager kids who visit because they are excited about science and technology. We have had multiple staff who came to the open house as students and through the tour, they decided to make a career in health care.

Q: What parts of the surgical environment do visitors find unusual or surprising during this event?

Denise: I think people are surprised how calm surgery is. It's not chaos like what we see on TV. I love seeing people’s eyes when the "light bulb" goes off and something really connects with them.

Q: How much work does it take to prepare the department for visitors?

Denise: We spend a lot of time planning, brainstorming what we think would be interesting to the public. We have over 50 volunteers who work to make the night a success. One of the biggest tasks comes from our Environmental Services Department, who ensures that everything is in tip top shape before surgery starts again the following morning. It is a lot to clean afterwards!

St. Cloud Hospital Surgery & Simulation Center Open House

When: Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Where: 1406 6th Ave. N in St. Cloud

Parking: Visitors are encouraged to park in the South Ramp, accessible from 12th St. N at the southernmost part of the hospital campus.

To reach the open house, take the South Ramp elevator to Floor A.